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Syria Country Guide

Explore Syria in Asia

Travel warning information is updated daily: The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade's advisory service has marked this country as DO NOT TRAVEL. This means that travelling this country can result in potentially life-threatening situations! If you really have to go: Check with your local authorities whether your exact destination is safe.

Syria with the capital city Damascus is located in Asia (Middle East, bordering the Mediterranean Sea). It covers some 185,181 square kilometres (slightly larger than North Dakota) with 19,747,000 citizens.

Interactive map of Syria

The terrain features primarily semiarid and desert plateau with narrow coastal plain and mountains in west. The average density of population is approximately 107 per km². The notable climate conditions in Syria can be described as mostly desert with hot, dry, sunny summers (June to August) and mild, rainy winters (December to February) along coast, cold weather with snow or sleet periodically in Damascus. Potential natural disasters are dust storms, sandstorms.

To reach someone in Syria dial +963 prior to a number. There are 3,871,000 installed telephones. And there are 9,697,000 registered mobile phones. The cellular networks commonly support frequencies of 900, 1800 Mhz. Websites registered in this country end with the top level domain ".sy". If you want to bring electric equipment on your trip (e.g. laptop power supply), note the local power outlet of 220V - 50Hz.

About the flag and history of Syria

Three equal horizontal bands of red (top), white, and black; two small, green, five-pointed stars in a horizontal line centered in the white band; the band colors derive from the Arab Liberation flag and represent oppression (black), overcome through bloody struggle (red), to be replaced by a bright future (white); identical to the former flag of the United Arab Republic (1958-1961) where the two stars represented the constituent states of Syria and Egypt; the current design dates to 1980
note: similar to the flag of Yemen, which has a plain white band, Iraq, which has an Arabic inscription centered in the white band, and that of Egypt, which has a gold Eagle of Saladin centered in the white band.

Following World War I, France acquired a mandate over the northern portion of the former Ottoman Empire province of Syria. The French administered the area as Syria until granting it independence in 1946. The new country lacked political stability, however, and experienced a series of military coups during its first decades. Syria united with Egypt in February 1958 to form the United Arab Republic. In September 1961, the two entities separated, and the Syrian Arab Republic was reestablished. In November 1970, Hafiz al-ASAD, a member of the socialist Ba'th Party and the minority Alawi sect, seized power in a bloodless coup and brought political stability to the country. In the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, Syria lost the Golan Heights to Israel. During the 1990s, Syria and Israel held occasional peace talks over its return. Following the death of President al-ASAD, his son, Bashar al-ASAD, was approved as president by popular referendum in July 2000. Syrian troops - stationed in Lebanon since 1976 in an ostensible peacekeeping role - were withdrawn in April 2005. During the July-August 2006 conflict between Israel and Hizballah, Syria placed its military forces on alert but did not intervene directly on behalf of its ally Hizballah. In May 2007 Bashar al-ASAD's second term as president was approved by popular referendum. Influenced by major uprisings that began elsewhere in the region, antigovernment protests broke out in the southern province of Dar'a in March 2011 with protesters calling for the repeal of the restrictive Emergency Law allowing arrests without charge, the legalization of political parties, and the removal of corrupt local officials. Since then demonstrations and unrest have spread to nearly every city in Syria, but the size and intensity of protests have fluctuated over time. The government responded to unrest with a mix of concessions - including the repeal of the Emergency Law and approving new laws permitting new political parties and liberalizing local and national elections - and force. However, the government's response has failed to meet opposition demands for ASAD to step down, and the government's ongoing security operations to quell unrest and widespread armed opposition activity have led to extended violent clashes between government forces and oppositionists. International pressure on the ASAD regime has intensified since late 2011, as the Arab League, EU, Turkey, and the United States have expanded economic sanctions against the regime. Lakhdar BRAHIMI, current Joint Special Representative of the United Nations and the League of Arab States on the Syrian crisis, in October 2012 began meeting with regional heads of state to assist in brokering a cease-fire. In December 2012, the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces was recognized by more than 130 countries as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people. Unrest persists in 2013, and the death toll among Syrian Government forces, opposition forces, and civilians has topped 70,000.

Geography Quick-Facts

Summary Continent: Asia
Neighbours: Iraq, Jordan, Israel, Turkey, Lebanon
Capital: Damascus
Size 185,180 square kilometers (km² or sqkm) or 71,498 square miles (mi² or sqmi)
slightly larger than North Dakota
Population 19,747,000
Currency Name: Pound, Currency Code: SYP
Country Top Level Domain (cTLD) .sy
Telephone Country Prefix +963
Mobile Phone Connections 9,697,000
Landline Phone Connections 3,871,000

Country Position in World Rankings

Information about single country attributes and how these compare against the rest of the world. The information below is compiled with data from 2013. As such, it may differ a bit to the Information above in the text (which is from 2010).


Value name Value World Rank
Area 185,180 (sq km) 89

People and Society

Value name Value World Rank
Population 22,457,336 53
Population growth rate 0.15 (%) 180
Birth rate 23.01 (births/1,000 population) 72
Death rate 3.67 (deaths/1,000 population) 210
Net migration rate -17.89 (migrant(s)/1,000 population) 218
Maternal mortality rate 70.00 (deaths/100,000 live births) 88
Infant mortality rate 14.63 (deaths/1,000 live births) 114
Life expectancy at birth 75.14 (years) 97
Total fertility rate 2.77 (children born/woman) 72
Health expenditures 3.40 (% of GDP) 178
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate 0.10 (%) 161
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS 500 153
HIV/AIDS - deaths 200 105
Obesity - adult prevalence rate 27.10 (%) 41
Children under the age of 5 years underweight 10.10 (%) 69
Education expenditures 5.10 (% of GDP) 73
Unemployment, youth ages 15-24 19.2 (%) 62


Value name Value World Rank
GDP (purchasing power parity) 107,600,000,000 69
GDP - per capita (PPP) 5,100 159
Labor force 5,540,000 72
Unemployment rate 18.00 (%) 155
Investment (gross fixed) 20.80 (% of GDP) 85
Taxes and other revenues 10.1 (% of GDP) 209
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-) -9.50 (% of GDP) 205
Public debt 44.00 (% of GDP) 78
Inflation rate (consumer prices) 33.70 (%) 222
Central bank discount rate 5.00 (%) 71
Commercial bank prime lending rate 10.50 (%) 85
Stock of narrow money 18,010,000,000 65
Stock of broad money 30,170,000,000 76
Stock of domestic credit 20,330,000,000 83
Industrial production growth rate 6.00 (%) 50
Current account balance -5,103,000,000 167
Exports 4,981,000,000 113
Imports 10,010,000,000 98
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold 4,774,000,000 93
Debt - external 8,818,000,000 102


Value name Value World Rank
Electricity - production 40,860,000,000 (kWh) 58
Electricity - consumption 28,870,000,000 (kWh) 63
Electricity - installed generating capacity 8200000 (kW) 62
Electricity - from fossil fuels 84.8 (% of total installed capacity) 87
Electricity - from hydroelectric plants 15.2 (% of total installed capacity) 103
Crude oil - production 333,900 (bbl/day) 34
Crude oil - exports 144,000 (bbl/day) 36
Crude oil - proved reserves 2183000000 (bbl) 35
Refined petroleum products - production 255,600 (bbl/day) 50
Refined petroleum products - consumption 258,800 (bbl/day) 50
Refined petroleum products - exports 14,540 (bbl/day) 83
Refined petroleum products - imports 58,160 (bbl/day) 65
Natural gas - production 8,940,000,000 (cu m) 46
Natural gas - consumption 9,630,000,000 (cu m) 49
Natural gas - imports 690,000,000 (cu m) 66
Natural gas - proved reserves 240,700,000,000 (cu m) 45
Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy 63,100,000 (Mt) 53


Value name Value World Rank
Telephones - main lines in use 4,345,000 37
Telephones - mobile cellular 13,117,000 59
Internet hosts 416 188
Internet users 4,469,000 52


Value name Value World Rank
Airports 99 58
Railways 2,052 (km) 72
Roadways 68,157 (km) 67
Waterways 900 (km) 69
Merchant marine 19 95


Value name Value World Rank
Military expenditures 3.60 (% of GDP) 31

Data based on CIA facts book 2010 & 2013, wikipedia, national statistical offices and their census releases

List of current world heritage sites

Name Since
Ancient City of Aleppo
Located at the crossroads of several trade routes from the 2nd millennium B.C., Aleppo was ruled successively by the Hittites, Assyrians, Arabs, Mongols, Mamelukes and Ottomans. The 13th-century citadel, 12th-century Great Mosque and various 17th-cen ...
Ancient City of Bosra
Bosra, once the capital of the Roman province of Arabia, was an important stopover on the ancient caravan route to Mecca. A magnificent 2nd-century Roman theatre, early Christian ruins and several mosques are found within its great walls. ...
Ancient City of Damascus
Founded in the 3rd millennium B.C., Damascus is one of the oldest cities in the Middle East. In the Middle Ages, it was the centre of a flourishing craft industry, specializing in swords and lace. The city has some 125 monuments from different period ...
Ancient Villages of Northern Syria
Some 40 villages grouped in eight parks situated in north-western Syria provide remarkable testimony to rural life in late Antiquity and during the Byzantine period. Abandoned in the 8th to 10th centuries, the villages, which date from the 1st to 7th ...
Crac des Chevaliers and Qal’at Salah El-Din
These two castles represent the most significant examples illustrating the exchange of influences and documenting the evolution of fortified architecture in the Near East during the time of the Crusades (11th - 13th centuries). The Crac des Chevalier ...
Site of Palmyra
An oasis in the Syrian desert, north-east of Damascus, Palmyra contains the monumental ruins of a great city that was one of the most important cultural centres of the ancient world. From the 1st to the 2nd century, the art and architecture of Palmyr ...